Much like any aging high society member, the Hilton Colombo's facelift was long overdue. But it's here, and it's great. On a mission for a solid lunch, we stopped by the Graze Kitchen, the hotel's brand new multi-cuisine all day dining restaurant. The buffet costs a flat Rs. 3100 (inclusive of taxes and service charge), which we thought made it one of the best value for money luxury dining spreads in the city.
The dated, faded, uncared for dinge of the old Hilton is long gone. Instead, you're walking into a sexy and sleek open-plan area, with lots of natural light and undulating lines. There's a rough stone finish, various action stations, and sections for different cuisines.
There's also a great al fresco area overlooking the pond and fountain area which is beautifully lit in the evening.
The seating plans are varied, with smaller tables catering to couples to semi-partioned couch tables for friends or business. They also have a couple of private rooms but I didn't check them out.
The variety here is staggering. They feature action stations and sections with Japanese, Italian, Grill, Thai, Chinese, Sri Lankan, and Indian cuisines. It's cool that they're not in gargantuan generic pots, but smaller dishes with plenty of choice within each cuisine.
The Japanese selection was well-executed and inventive,with funky maki selections and lots of fresh sashimi. They also had some miso and a beautiful sake pot that was sadly only decorative.
The Indian section featured a delicious selection of hot naan, prawn biriyani, and kind of lacklustre tandoori chicken.
I particularly enjoyed the Western and grilled selections, although I didn't have the space to indulge in the Italian pasta action station. Both the roast chicken and the lamb came with lovely sauces, pepper and red wine reductions that acted as perfect complements.
The fresh bread array was gorgeously presented, although I suspect some of the loaves were again purely decorative. Customization is key here, with plenty of action stations for pasta, soup, and more.
Their dessert selection is formidable too - precisely arranged rows of puddings, petits-fours, cakes, tarts, and more.
The tiramisu was probably one of the best I've had in the city. Unapologetically rich cream, traces of marscapone, and sloshes of coffee. I would have had a third portion if I had had the wisdom and foresight to wear a dress rather than pants.
We also opted for an a la carte dish, a Chicken Set at Rs. 1380. The menu was surprisingly concise, especially in comparison to the massive buffet selection.
The dish was honestly pretty uninspiring. Fragrant rice, dry roast chicken, a couple of slices of tomato and zucchini, along with plain ginger stock soup, and some intense ginger and chillie condiments. We just found it underwhelming, bland and very dry. This completely paled in comparison to the superb buffet fare.
The drinks menu was extensive to say the least. With a wine list longer than the Constitution, and prices not as exorbitant as you'd expect from a 5 star hotel, it's a pretty decent selection. We ended up opting for a Classic Mojito (Rs. 950) and a draught of Lion Beer (Rs. 490).
When we walked into the Hilton, a little disoriented by the shiny new makeover, we were immediately and professionally accosted by a concierge who described to us the restaurants in store, including the two new spots (Graze and the LAB Lounge and Bar, which we'll cover next).
There was a surprising quantity of waitstaff at the restaurant, so we were never left unattended, and there were often sous chefs or attendants to help explain dishes to us, sometimes superfluously just reading out labels to us.
Our waiter was a little too brusque and familiar for our liking, possibly because we were two young women on our own, or possibly because we were dressed a little scruffy. Either way, it didn't quite match up to the rest of the impeccable service we encountered, or suit the gravitas of 5 star dining.
We're genuinely impressed. The a la carte menu is quite expensive, and rather inspid, but the buffet is extremely reasonable for the quantity and variety you're contending with. Plus, you're in a beautiful setting and served by generally excellent service, which makes Graze ideal for a business lunch or family dinner.
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